I have two confessions to make before I outline my thoughts on this latest work of avant-garde dark ambient soundscapes from ówt krì. The first is that I know its creator Kenneth, who as well as being a seriously imaginative, talent musician and master of soundscapes is also a top bloke. The second is that in preparing for “Pilgrimage”, I listened to “New Seed” (2013) and whereas at that time I commented that I appreciated it but had no idea what it was about, this time it hit me like a brick and sent shivers down my spine. The world moves on. As someone who musically at least exists outside of humdrum existence and more in the world of experimentation and the Akusmata Sound Festival, maybe Kenneth could explain this process of mind shifting to me.
Kenneth did explain to me beforehand that this album is more of a collection of individual pieces than the concept of “New Seed”. The challenge of fitting the parts together was not evident. And so off we go on another absorbing mind-enhancing sonic and cosmic experience. The sad and sinister whistling has that touch of Burzum at its darkest, but here on “Static Continuum”, a guitar adds a rich tune. It’s distorted and not normal, but nothing is normal in this ambient and wavy world. I’m pleased to say that it’s more inspiring than fear-inducing, which this style could be. This unusual interpretation appeals to the senses. Cold and industrial processes are an inevitable part of this world, and we clank and grind cosmically through “From Shadows”, an appropriately-titled experience of indistinct and distorted cosmic sound waves. “Messe de Requiem” conveys the mystical sense of being in church, but not in a way that I guess you might experience on a Sunday. In fact the sombre tones are surrounded by an electronically funereal progression, never heightening in intensity but aided by a collection of other-worldly, symphonically-orientated sound effects and the deadened tones of the church bell.
The thing is that apart from the ambiance, you nearly but don’t quite recognise the sounds, which make them more intriguing. “Pilgrimage I” is as deep and dark and ever, but features the trip-hop style drum beat which Netra use to similar depressive effect on their album “Sørbyen” (2012). In case we thought we might be getting too close to our own world, “Flight to Kailash” takes us through the stars and cosmos. It is a peaceful journey, supported by a haunting and mystical voice and sound waves – did I use the term “spine-chilling” earlier. It has that “2001: A Space Odyssey” about it, and of course there is a soundtrack element to much of this, but it cannot be denied that these sensory sounds are beautiful. The sensory experience does not end there, as the curiously named Pod_9 darkly and deliberately vocalises his words to another slow and shadowy piece. It was only when I first heard “Absurd” that I realised I hadn’t felt devastating sadness, such is the richness of sound. “Absurd” is an interesting title as for me it conjured up images of Death and Loneliness – I capitalise those words deliberately, as although like much of this album there are suggestions of minimalism, the waves and distortions are highly sophisticated and the effect is devastating. The sadness continues in a classic way with the traditional piano used as the instrument to create the atmosphere. That trip-hop beat returns, as does the echoing spoken word, which hits home with its uniqueness and power. The power is enhanced further with symphonic sounds. For the first time we are confronted by the sound instead of having it subtly injected through a dark, dream like state. But here is always a mystical flavour to “Integrity / I Believe”, and it is an appropriate way to finish as listening to this album as a whole has been a mystical, outer-worldly experience.
It’s important to get the sound balance right, and in this respect Kenneth has hit the jackpot by getting Dan Swanö to carry out the mastering of “Pilgrimage”. I like to read Kenneth’s updates, and he is always seeking to develop sounds and engage in interesting projects. This also became a personal journey. Re-iterating my earlier point, the world moves on. I realised as I was being hypnotised by “Pilgrimage” that my own musical goal posts have shifted. Where once I struggled through a Boris concert, in the last few years I have developed a profound interest in experimental genres like dark ambient music and drone, resulting in my interest in bands like From the Bogs of Aughiska, Om and Kenneth’s ówt krì. There is so much to explore out there. This album is a journey, one which captures an exciting stage in Kenneth’s development. I found it completely absorbing and borne of scintillating imagination. What is key is Kenneth’s ability to communicate this dark and mystical world. “Pilgrimage” is like experiencing mind travel.
(9/10 Andrew Doherty)